Backpacking: it’s not for everyone! There are far too many people I know who can’t travel without more than 2-3 different suitcases of products and clothing. It’s definitely a different, more-stressful event packing and traveling with multiples suitcases. Me, on the other hand, I prefer to backpack whenever I can. I don’t have to worry about the 50-pound bag limit, I can carry my bag on the plane with me (and not worry about losing it), and I can easily travel from hotel to hotel. Let’s discuss how to backpack, the benefits, and packing your backpack!
How to Backpack
While there are numerous ways to backpack around, I find it ideal to have an extremely large Gearmax/hiking backpack (which holds as much as if not more than a small suitcase and can come on the plane with me) and either a laptop bag or purse. I can live out of these two items on the road for a solid 1-2 weeks worth of time. A good back-packing bag can hold a spare change of shoes, 2-3 pairs of jeans or pants, and around 7 shirts (remember to utilize layers; that’s really important here), a bathing suit and underwear/bras/socks, and my makeup bag, toothbrush, and deodorant easily. The trick here is to know where you can cut back. If you’re going to be moving rooms or locations frequently on your trip like I do, then you need to backpack to avoid dragging you luggage all over the world with you. If you’re going to a hotel that you know will have amenities for you (soap, shampoo, conditioner), then forget about packing that stuff! The less liquid you need to bring, the less likely you are to check your bag. I mean, really, don’t check your bag if you’re backpacking. Backpacking is meant to have you moving around the world with ease.
If you’re planning to be gone for more than a week or two and are wanting to live out of a backpack, that’s do-able, too. Be sure to book a hotel that either has laundry services or a washer and dryer in your room. You laugh, but I’ve seen it!
Basically, if you’re looking to go on a trip with a lot of movement and potential stress, don’t make luggage one of your stressors. Just take a backpack and live simply.
The Benefits of Backpacking
There are many, many benefits to backpacking. First, you generally don’t need to check your bag on the plane. Even large hiking backpacks will fit in the overhead bins. And, though sometimes large backpacks are more than the recommended carry-on measurements, because they can smush, they are allowed on the plane. I’ve NEVER been stopped wearing my backpack on the plane, and it’s definitely larger than it’s supposed to be for carry on. But it smushes with no problem, so who cares?
Since you don’t have to check your bag, you are already getting rid of that dreaded 50-pound limit problem. A backpack (even if you check it) has a very hard time hitting that limit.
You don’t have to roll a bag around city blocks, lug it in and out of cabs, and try to bring it all over the world with you. I tend to go on press trips, which inevitably require a lot of walking (and sometimes even changing hotels regularly). Especially in situations where it rains or you hit bad weather, this stinks! It’s important to be able to move around with ease without worrying about dragging your bag through puddles. So, in that situation, backpacking is key.
And, finally, it’s easier to live out of, unpack, and re-pack your backpack.
Packing Your Backpack
First, as mentioned, I recommend you find a really good, spacious hiking backpack with a few compartments in it. Pack your underwear, socks, bras, and swimsuits in an elastic compartment within the bag. Then, put your spare change of shoes in the bottom of the bag. (When backpacking, I recommend wearing comfy sneakers on the plane/journey, and then bringing either a pair of dress shoes/heel or sandals in your bag depending on where you’re going.) Roll 2 pairs of jeans and put them in the bag along with any necessary dress pants or skirts. Then, put in the number of shirts you need, trying to condense what you’re bringing with layers, if possible. Wear any sweaters or jackets you many need, as they’re the most hard to pack in this scenario. Having one good sweater and a jacket is always a good idea. Don’t overdo it on these, though. Pick a compartment for your makeup, deodorant, and toothbrush. And, again, cut out as many toiletries as possible. Trust that your hotel will have towels, shampoo, conditioner, and soap. And if not, get small travel-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner so you don’t over-pack here.
And that’s really all you desperately need here. Be sure to pack only what you know you need and don’t bring extra changes of clothes in these situations, as you most likely won’t have the room. (Though bringing one dress for those epic Instagram-photos can definitely be a good idea.
For longer trips that you can’t backpack in, check out my packing list here: https://www.maloriesadventures.com/blog/ultimate-packing-list